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Government`s Lukewarm Attitude Toward Illegal Strike

Posted June. 13, 2001 16:02,   


The Korean Air pilot union, the Asiana Airlines union and the unions of six hospitals including the Seoul National University Hospital went on strike yesterday which is the second day of the joint strike proceeded by the Korean Federation of Trade Union (KFTU). Among the 12 hospital unions who were supposed to go on strike, only 6 hospitals participated in the joint strike.

Both labor and management have tried to make an agreement, but this strike has had a fatal impact on the national economy as well as the citizens` inconvenience.

The experts pointed out that the leading group of the KFTU has stuck only with the drastic measure far away from the demands of the labor unions just because of the organizational interest. ``The government are hesitating to take the proper measures, despite an arrest warrant was already issued,`` said the experts.

▼ Deepening Airlines Turmoil

The labor unions and the management groups of the Korean Air and the Asiana Airlines have failed to reach an agreement in the repeated negotiations, and thus the crippled operation of both airlines continued for two days. Because the pilots and the flight attendants who have done the emergent duty for the past two days, have to take a rest from today, the turmoil in flight operation will be aggravated.

Both labor and management continued to negotiate with the burden of the prolonged strike until the midnight yesterday, while the government showed the intention to be involved in the negotiation in order to break the current deadlock.

Since both labor and management of the Korean Air did not reach an agreement on the issue of the claim for compensation by the management, they could not even discuss the core issues such as the issue of forming the `council for the flight operation regulations` with the same number from the labor and management.

The Korean Air plans to rebuke the pilots who did not return to the duty until 6:00 pm yesterday, and to claim for compensation for the financial losses incurred by the strike.

The labor and management of the Asiana Airlines only reaffirmed the gap between the positions about the raise in allowances.

Meanwhile, the pilot union of the Asiana Airlines discussed the counter-plan in preparation for the mobilization of the policy force into the strike site.

The Korean Air cancelled 47 out of 94 international flights and 225 out of 244 domestic flights were cancelled. And for the Asiana Airlines, 129 out of 205 domestic flights were cancelled.

▼ Hospital Unions Participate in the Strike

The 2,000 union members of six major university hospitals (such as the Seoul National University, Ewha Womans University, Chungbuk National University, Chonbuk National University, Dongguk University, and Chonnam National University) went on strike, demanding the withdrawal of the restructuring, and the wage increase. The strikes of five hospitals except the Chungbuk National University Hospital are illegal.

The labor unions of Kyung Hee University Medical Center, Kyungpook National University Hospital, Donga University Hospital and three branches of the Catholic University of Korea St. Mary`s Hospital (Uijongbu, Kangnam, Yoido) called off their strikes after reaching an agreement with the management groups.

The possibility of the successful agreement still remains in the Seoul National University Hostpital, Ewha Womans University Hospital and Chonbuk National University Hospital.

The Health and Medical Union told that the unions of Hanyang University Hospital, Pusan Kyungsang College Hospital, and Kosin University Hospital will go on strike on 14th.

▼Current Situation of Strike

The Ministry of Labor totaled that 16,287 unionized workers from 31 workplaces participated in the strike yesterday (while the KFTU totaled 42,067 workers from 69 workplaces). If the workplaces which have been on strike before the joint strike such as Hyosung Co. are added, the strikes are currently undergoing in 51 workplaces in total.

While the number of the workplaces has lessened, the number of participants has increased, compared to the situation on 12th (15,142 workers from 68 workplaces). Most small and medium manufacturing companies under the Federation of Korean Metal Workers Trade Unions returned to the workplace yesterday, after one-day strike on 12th.

▼ Financial Losses

The financial losses from the joint strike of the KFTU estimated to 153 billion won as of yesterday afternoon.

The Korea Employers Federation and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy announced that the financial losses of 153 billion won occurred by the strike, and the financial losses from the strikes of the airlines and the hospitals amounted to respectively 29.2 billion won and 3.14 billion won.

The total losses from the failure to export estimated to $36.51 million (47.4 billion won).

But if the indirect losses from the strikes of the airlines and the hospitals are taken into account, the scale of damage will increase to a great extent.

▼ Indifferent Attitude of the Government

The prosecutors office confirmed the plan to punish the leaders of the illegal strikes by law, but the government has not taken the active measures such as the mobilization of the police force. The government took a position to wait for the voluntary agreement between labor and management.

Kim Joon-Seok kjs359@donga.com